4 Bears questions: Can the Rams, and QB Jared Goff, handle the cold Sunday?
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Four questions as the Bears prepare to host the Rams on “Sunday Night Football”:
Will it be too cold for Goff?
Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who was raised in the Bay Area and attended Cal, isn’t used to this weather. In college and the pros, he has played exactly one game in which the temperature at kickoff was below freezing: Oct. 14 in Denver.
His stat line from that game: 14-for-28, 174 yards, no touchdown passes, one interception, five sacks and a 58.8 passer rating.
Wearing a glove on his throwing hand, he had season lows in completions, yards and passer rating.
Rams coach Sean McVay credited the Broncos, not Mother Nature, for his struggles.
“I don’t think [weather] affected him at all,” McVay said. “Hopefully, it won’t be a factor as we continue to move forward. Seeing how the weather is in Chicago this week, we expect to prepare to the best of our ability and go play like we can.”
The projected high is 34 degrees. By the 7:20 p.m. kickoff, it should be below freezing.
Exactly how big is this game?
The last time the Bears faced a team at least 10 games above .500, they lost to the 13-1 Packers in Green Bay on Christmas Day, 2011.
Teams like the 11-1 Rams — who can clinch a first-round bye with a win — don’t visit often, either.
During the John Fox era, the Bears played seven December home games. They faced two playoff teams, the 2016 Packers and 2015 Redskins. The other five teams — the 49ers and Browns last year, the Redskins and 49ers in 2016 and the 49ers in 2015 — had only five wins among them when they took the field.
Sunday, then, is uncharted waters.
“I don’t want them to hold back,” coach Matt Nagy said. “I want them to be themselves, do what they’ve done all year long.”
Halftime hot tip
Field-goal favorites, the Rams have covered the spread only once in their last five games.
Did the Bears take the wrong Dawg?
General manager Ryan Pace has drafted two Georgia Bulldogs in the top 10 picks of the first round — outside linebacker Leonard Floyd and inside linebacker Roquan Smith. The one he didn’t take, though, might be the best player on the field Sunday.
In his first year with the Bears, Pace drafted wide receiver Kevin White seventh overall. The Rams took running back Todd Gurley 10th. Gurley, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during his last season and finished his college career having played less than 40 percent of Georgia’s offensive snaps, was a medical risk.
“It’s inspirational, seeing him come back from the injury,” said Floyd, a college teammate. “And then to see his success right now, it’s a blessing. I’m happy for him. On Sunday, though, it’s going to be all business.”
Pace has preferred to backfill at running back on the draft’s final day. He has taken Jeremy Langford and Tarik Cohen in the fourth round and Jordan Howard in the fifth.
A year after passing on Gurley, Pace referenced the runner when debating whether to take Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, who had a more serious knee injury. He said his team had to balance whether a player would be elite against whether there was a possibility he’d miss time.
“I think you saw last year with Gurley, sometimes those decisions are worth it,” Pace said then.
What’s with the shirt?
On Friday, Nagy wore a navy T-shirt with “Bearons” written in Bears-style script across the front. Nagy’s alma mater, the Manheim (Pennsylvania) Central Barons, was playing in the state 5A title game later that day. He planned to watch online.
“That town — I know right now Manheim is going crazy,” he said. “I guarantee you they’ve been out in that parking lot from 4 this morning. I’m serious.”